2013 was a big year for Social Media in Sports. Mostly because it continued to be a monumental year for Social Media.
Instagram rose to become a popular platform by Sports brands, teams and athletes and was purchased for $1 Billion by Facebook. Twitter went public and continued to leverage sponsored and promoted tweets. While Facebook is always finding ways to get us to pay for eyeballs and even jumped on the hashtag ship. All of this in one way or another impacts Sports. Especially the real-time platforms.
After last year’s 2013 Social Media in Sports Predictions, I wanted to continue to the momentum for 2014. Below we have a great roster full of predictions for 2014 and the world of Social Media in Sports. #SMSports has become a ever-growing community and #SMSportsChat just celebrated its 2nd birthday on December 15th.
My predictions for 2014 are that we will see a rise in monetization of Social Media with sponsors, teams, brands, and athletes. In terms of storytelling, I think there will be more creative content across all platforms leveraging the uniqueness of Instagram (short-form) vs. YouTube (long-form) and Twitter vs. Facebook. Overall, this will be the year of the fan in which fans will be a staple in strategies to give them a voice and entice them to create User Generated Content (UGC) for either rewards, loyalty programs, or to participate and feel apart of the overall brand experience. The question will be how creative can we get!
Now let’s hear from the #SMSports community! Voice your own predictions with: #SMSports2014
In 2014, the partnership between big data and social will be big. Teams, leagues, even athletes will leverage large quantities of data to make informed decisions. The NBA is taking a step forward with this by providing their Stats page for free to users and packed with a goldmine of data: stats.nba.com
Two things will happen. 1. Users/companies will build apps on top of the large amounts of big data to help teams make decisions, or just for fans to consume the information in a meaningful way via social. 2. This could be Moneyball meets social media, and teams will start to leverage this big data to possibly make business decisions. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey is a big believer in analytics, and could see other teams/leagues follow suit.
I think social media in sports will continue to trend towards the intersection of paid media, earned media, and branded content that larger brands have already started to master (well as much as anyone can master a constantly moving target….). The sports industry did a great job in catching up with branded graphics for posts, improved video and photo resources and infographic-style storytelling in 2013, but 2014 will see a rise of more successful digital marketing pursuits for sports teams on social media platforms. The combination of buzz-worthy promotions being met by pitching from team PR departments, plus budget-backed media buys for ads on Facebook and Instagram as well as sponsored Tweets from your Marketing team, will help elevate the content and digital marketing campaign assets being created by your social producer. In short – 2014 will be the rise of true social media marketing for the sports industry.
Sports franchises will flock to Snapchat…and then abandon it. The numbers on Snapchat – 400 million snaps a day and roughly 30 million active monthly users (Source) – are too big to ignore, and the user demographic is largely made up of younger, impressionable, and influential fans. The New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles have already joined the platform in 2013, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, sport social media managers are already juggling established presences on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in addition to niche networks like Pinterest, Vine, and G+. The combination of small staffs, an established base of social networks, and the limited ability to prove social ROI will ultimately make it difficult for many franchises to justify the effort and content needed to succeed on Snapchat.
The primary prediction I have for 2014 SMSports is that it will become increasingly mainstream with other organizational efforts. Why? Because it works. As much as many lament the bastardization of some of these networks with the proliferations of data grabs and advertising, the brands and teams that do it right are seeing a return on investment and return on objective. Marketing dollars will continue to go away from traditional channels and into social, digital, and mobile platforms. PR will evolve in its focus – going from serving the journalism community to serving their fans (and potential fans). As a team’s brand and personality becomes more front-and-center and amplified across digital and social media, a more consistent integration across all of a team’s channels and touch points will result. What you see on TV will echo what you see in-arena, on mobile, on Facebook, etc. A consistent experience further tying fan to team, engaging fans on their preferred platforms, and always being a (hopefully valued) part of the conversation and part of each fan’s identity and daily life.
It’s hard to predict just one thing when it comes to sports-social media. The exponential growth we’ve seen over the last few years means innovation is a constant in this business. Whether it’s been through Vine and Instagram video or in-game highlights/GIFs in a tweet, video came to the forefront in 2013. Those of us in the business saw it coming in 2012, but it will become even more prevalent in our social media “viewing” in 2014. It could mean there’s an as-yet-to-be-named tool or platform that steps into the sports fan consciousness like Vine did last year.
Or, it could be just an expansion of what’s currently out there on social platforms, like the watching an event through a tweet (a la MLB’s Home Run Derby) or more teams/leagues/athletes utilizing Google+ Hangouts. From a marketing standpoint, the possibilities with those uses are endless. One thing I wonder beyond 2014, will that mean eventually paying to watch an event through social media? As the saying goes, “never say never”.
I see a specific opportunity for growth in the form of endorsements related to the social media platform Instagram. Athletes have an opportunity to pump out meaningful content whereby they create meaningful associations with brands in the form of pictures that are instantly pushed out to their lofty followings.
GPS technology with social media will continue to change the stadium gaming experience from ordering food or merchandise to in-game giveaways and social interactions. Like Twitter to more mature generations, GPS still feels young to many. Twitter and GPS feels mainstream to some, but 2014 will be the year each truly go mainstream as previously inactive generations finally come aboard.
1. Social data to make smart business decisions.
In 2014, I think we will see analytics move beyond the number of likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc. Social data will be used to help drive product decisions and athlete endorsements, adjust live game broadcasts, garner feedback about the game day experience and understand the content fans are craving.
2. More video storytelling.
There are two reasons why I think we will see this trend. First of all, television ads from the sporting goods industry this year proved the best way to make a lasting impression is to tell a story and tap into emotion. Just take a look at the success adidas had with “Basketball is Everything” featuring D. Rose. Secondly, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network (according to Nielsen). Online video is hot right now, but more importantly, it’s the way of the future. In 2014, I think we’ll see more emphasis on video content that taps into the storylines of sports, the people behind the jerseys and the emotions that make the games so relatable.
3. Dollars behind Facebook.
After watching Facebook engagement and reach fall flat this past year, I firmly believe you have to strategically put dollars behind your content. In fact, Facebook has admitted organic reach is dipping. See for yourself. In 2014, I think we’ll see more brands putting dollars behind their Facebook content to increase reach. The network still dominates all other networks when it comes to active users, so until that changes, there’s value in investing.
You can read the rest of Jessica’s blog post here: 14 things I would like to see in Social Media and Sports in 2014.
Expect a proliferation in short-form storytelling via video from teams, leagues and sports media. Like this: http://instagram.com/p/htqQq9rO0P. Attention is becoming an alarmingly scarce resource while video gains traction as the preferred means to consume news. It’s the perfect nexus of the two.
I’m hoping the next sports media trend is a move toward simplicity. There is a sports information bubble going on that is seemingly close to popping. There is SO much noise, so many tweets, different stats, hashtags, so many random videos. It’s too noisy. Winners are going to be people who save time and cut through the bullshit.
Similarly, sports content is going to have to start providing real value. It’s not enough that your team’s athletes are on Twitter or your network answers questions from fans on air. Again, the noise-to-signal is so out of whack, value will be in high and unique quality, not just in the simple act of broadcasting.
Lastly, I’m really intrigued by how sports can utilize direct-message apps, Snapchat, etc., in that it can create a true one-on-one experience with information and talent.
In 2014, I believe that there will be more sports marketers implementing mobile marketing into their programming, particularly around the Winter Olympics, SuperBowl and the World Cup.
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